Russia carrier rocket blows up on launch

AFP-JIJI

An unmanned Russian Proton-M carrier rocket exploded Tuesday on takeoff at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, in images broadcast live on national television.

Spectacular footage showed the rocket veering off its trajectory just seconds after its 6.38 a.m. launch, before erupting into a ball of flames and releasing highly toxic rocket fuel into the air.

The Russian space agency Roskosmos, citing preliminary information, said the accident caused no damage or casualties.

“It seems something is going wrong,” said a television commentator during the live coverage of the launch.

“Something is wrong. It seems it will be a catastrophe,” said the presenter, his voice trembling.

The rocket then exploded, sending plumes of black smoke into the morning sky.

The rocket was supposed to take three Glonass-M satellites into space.